Author Topic: Ex-army chief: Olmert must resign  (Read 1882 times)

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Offline Shlomo

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Ex-army chief: Olmert must resign
« on: September 15, 2006, 09:59:41 AM »
Ex-army chief: Olmert must resign
Accuses prime minister of sacrificing soldiers' lives for 'spin'
Posted: September 14, 2006 11:26 a.m. Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2006

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (
TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sacrificed the lives of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon last month for media "spin" and should immediately resign, former Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff Moshe Ya'alon charged today.

Speaking in an interview with Israel's Haaretz daily, Ya'alon condemned Olmert's decision to launch a massive ground offensive last month just 48-hours before a United Nations cease-fire resolution was imposed to end 34 days of military confrontations between Israel and Hezbollah.

Thirty-three Israeli soldiers were killed in the last-minute operation, which succeeded in reaching Lebanon's Litani River – about 18 miles from the Israeli border, encompassing the swath of territory from which Hezbollah fired most of its rockets into northern Israel.

Olmert ordered the operation two days before the cease-fire, reportedly after refusing military leaders' plans for similar operations throughout the the war.

"That was a spin move," Ya'alon said. "It had no substantive security-political goal, only a spin goal. It was meant to supply the missing victory picture. You don't do that. You don't send soldiers to carry out a futile mission after the political outcome has already been set. I consider that corrupt."

"And that is why people have to resign," said Ya'alon. "For that you don't even need a commission of inquiry. Whoever made that decision has to assume responsibility and resign."

Asked if he specifically was suggesting Olmert resign, Ya'alon replied, "Yes. [Olmert] can't say he didn't know. He can't say that. ... The war's management was a failure, and he is responsible for that. The final operation was particularly problematic, and he was directly involved in that. He was warned and did not heed the warnings. Therefore, he must resign."

WND reported last month military leaders here have been quietly probing whether Olmert knew a cease-fire would be imposed within two days when, after a month of fighting in Lebanon, he green-lighted the large-scale ground operation to reach the Litani.

"It's possible Olmert knew a cease-fire was coming. If so, our stepped-up operation that he approved two days earlier was a pointless exercise in which troops were killed. This is a very serious situation," a senior military official told WND last month, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media.

After Israeli soldiers reached the Litani, with 33 dying during the ensuing battles, troop advances were halted some 48 hours later in line with the cease-fire. The Israeli troops gradually withdrew their positions in the following days.

Israeli military officials tell WND that from the start of the Jewish state's campaign in Lebanon July 12, the IDF petitioned for the deployment of up to 40,000 ground troops to advance immediately to the Litani River and from there work their way back to the Israeli border while surrounding, and then cleaning out, Hezbollah strongholds under heavy aerial cover.

But Olmert, at first, only approved aerial assaults, they say. After Hezbollah retaliated by firing large numbers of rockets into Israel, the Olmert government approved a smaller ground offensive of up to 8,000 soldiers who, according to military officials, were not directed to advance to the Litani. The IDF was charged with cleaning out Hezbollah's bases within about three miles of the Israeli border.

IDF leaders told WND they suffered in "very specific" ways on the battlefield because of a lack of sufficient ground troops. They cited instances in which they claimed there were not enough soldiers to surround key villages, such as Bint Jbail in southern Lebanon, allowing Hezbollah fighters to infiltrate cities after the IDF began combat inside the areas.

After nearly four weeks of fighting, Olmert's cabinet in August approved the larger assault the IDF had petitioned for, authorizing about 40,000 troops to enter Lebanon and advance to the Latani River. The IDF estimated it would need about three days to reach central Lebanon and another four to six weeks to successfully wipe out the Hezbollah infrastructure in the areas leading back to the Israeli border.

But less than three days after the Israeli army was given a green light to advance, a cease-fire was imposed and the Jewish state suspended operations.

"If Olmert did not know a cease-fire was coming, then our reaching the Litani would have been crucial for the continued battle," the military official said. "We needed to clean out those areas to defeat Hezbollah. If he did know, Olmert sent our troops to their deaths for nothing other than to prove we can reach the Litani."

The official charged that whether the IDF reached the Litani or not, the cease-fire agreement would still call for the Lebanese army and an international force to deploy in the area.

Olmert has not yet responded to the charges, which military officials have been leaking to the media.

IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz last month told the Knesset the decision to expand the ground operation and advance to the Litani River was not made with the knowledge that the fighting would end within 48 hours.

"When we began the operation, we did not know we only had 48 hours. We knew a diplomatic process was set to begin, but we didn't know we'd have to stop after 48 hours," Halutz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

He noted that when the decision to expand the fighting was made, the U.N. Security Council had not yet approved a resolution on the cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah.

Halutz's comments incensed some military leaders.

"He is admitting to our worst fears," said the senior military leader. "That our fighting and lives were subjected to back-and-forth diplomacy."

Indeed, military officials told WND on several occasions during the Lebanon war, while heavy diplomacy looked to be gaining momentum, such as during Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visits here, that the IDF was asked by the political echelon to halt most operations and troop advances for up to 36 hours while negotiations ran their course.

Military leaders charge some troop battalions, instructed to hold positions outside villages but not to advance, became sitting ducks for Hezbollah anti-tank fire, which killed at least 35 Israeli soldiers. After the diplomacy failed, the military officials say, soldiers were ordered to carry on.

The military officials are demanding the government's management of the war be probed.

"We are demanding a national commission of inquiry," a military official said. "And not some hack committee appointed by politicians to whitewash them."

Olmert this month appointed two government-run committees to probe the war. The committees are controlled largely by Olmert's office. Their parameters are determined by Olmert.

One committee, a probe into the military leadership, is headed by former IDF Chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, who served as an adviser to the Defense Ministry during the war he has been charged with investigating.

The second commission, a probe into Olmert's government and the political leadership, is headed by former Chief of Mossad Nahum Admoni, a close Olmert confidant.
"In the final analysis, for the believer there are no questions, and for the non-believer there are no answers." -Chofetz Chaim